Bi-weekly Roma news review: June 20-July 5
By Bernard Rorke
News coverage on Roma over the last two weeks has been dominated by the horrific death of 22-year-old David Pop murdered by Ukrainian fascists, and Italy’s Matteo Salvini ramping up the hate against Roma. Here is a selection of other media reports from across Europe. One thing is clear – wherever antigypsyism goes unchecked, unchallenged, or unpunished, democracy is degraded and weakened. Public officials and politicians who incite hatred against Roma must be brought to book; and those who remain silent or ambivalent in the face of the vicious racism, harm and humiliation visited upon Roma in Europe are deeply complicit. This resurgence in violent racism against Roma, at a time when nativist and far right political forces continue their advance, poses a grave danger that must not be ignored.
June 20: Leighton Buzzard, UK – The Traveller Movement has questioned the implications of the not guilty verdicts handd down to two men who shot at two policemen and later claimed in court that it was a case of mistaken identity whilst they were hunting for “travellers” who had just burgled their business. Jim Davies, Manager of the Equalities and Social Justice Unit for the Traveller Movement, described the verdicts as “almost inconceivable”. For more see the Travellers’ Times: https://bit.ly/2KIMEZ3.
June 22: Italy – "Salvini considers immigrants the enemy. He considers Italians from the south of his own country the enemy. First he insulted them, then during the elections he begged for their votes. He considers Roma the enemy. [...] I am glad to belong among his enemies," writer Roberto Saviani responded to Interior Minister Salvini’s threat to remove Saviano’s police protection. The author was in defiant mood after his attack on Italy’s treatment of immigrants and Roma and Salvini’s “boorish nativism”. Dubbing Salvini "il ministro della malavita" – "the minister of the underworld", a phrase borrowed from early 20th-century anti-fascist Gaetano Salvemini – Saviani warned “"If Matteo Salvini wants to vent his worst impulses against me and the immigrants, anyone who thinks they are safe is wrong. Yesterday it was the immigrants, today it's me and tomorrow, it'll be you." For more see: https://bit.ly/2uaYila.
June 22: Glasgow – Racist bullying of Eastern European pupils in Scotland has escalated since Brexit with victims hiding their nationality, researchers have warned. "Particularly vulnerable groups like Roma migrant groups would try and hide that, particularly in public spaces. They would not use their home language in schools or on public transport for fear of attack.” For more see: https://bit.ly/2m3m7a9.
June 23: Prague: Martina Horváthová recalled, "Our parents always told us we had to be at least three times better than the gadje for us to even be noticed and recognized by them." At the turn of the millennium she switched from medical studies the emancipation of Romani women, and later Martina began to build the Manushe group, which today brings together as many as 170 Romani women around the entire country. For more see Romea: https://bit.ly/2KH2IKU.
June 26: UK – Shocking new research revealed that almost three quarters of police offic ers believe that Gypsy and Traveller people are prone to crime because of their ethnicity, according to shocking new research released today by the Traveller Movement, whose CEO, Yvonne MacNamara said: “This suggests a bias based purely on ethnicity and a differential policing practice. As the primary agents of community cohesion the police have a responsibility to ensure an equitable police service for all. They need to reach out to the GRT communities and work towards eliminating bias and discrimination in their practice. Our report identifies a number of recommendations and pathways for improving community relations and ensuring better outcomes for all.” For more on this see Travellers’ Times: https://bit.ly/2KMGdVf.
June 27: Milan – Compelling testimony from Romani actor and activist Dijana Pavlovic on the human cost of Salvini’s racism: “It’s difficult to explain to others how much we suffer when classmates treat our children badly or, as often happens, a teacher puts one of our children in a corner and just leaves them there. It is difficult to explain the extraordinary fortitude and energy we need to find every day to soften the blows to our children, to try to make the discrimination and humiliation more tolerable, to salvage our dignity as parents – and our children’s dignity as human beings.” For more see: https://bit.ly/2N2qQVe.
June 30: Serne, Ukraine – Al Jazeera reported from the burial of 23-year-old David Popp, murdered by Ukrainian fascists because he was Roma. “The circumstances that prompted Popp and others to migrate to the cities are evident. From a nearby village, the settlement is accessed by a battered and potholed two-kilometre stretch of road, most houses seem to consist of one or two rooms, and small-scale agriculture is the only form of work. Popp's father, 40-year-old Farko, had also left the country to find work. At his son's graveside, he tells Al Jazeera through an interpreter that he had been working in Hungary at the time of the murder. David had always wanted to make money to build a house in Serne, he said. For more see: https://bit.ly/2uhKg0p.
July 1: Ústí nad Labem – 21 people living in a school gym after residential hostels close down in the Czech town of Ústí nad Labem. Of the 224 people in need of rehousing, 177 have accommodation arranged."Approximately 21 people from the Modrá residential hotel do not yet have accommodation, 12 of whom are children," a local activist told news server Romea.cz. The city is providing temporary shelter for them in the gymnasium of a primary school in the Předlice quarter. For more see: https://bit.ly/2JhpRxY.
July 5: Barcelona – Aljazeera profile on Catalonia’s Roma fighting stereotypes. Manel Carbonell, vice president of Catalonia's FAGIC (Federation of Associations of Gypsies in Catalonia): "We've lived in Catalonia for 603 years. We've given a lot to Catalonian culture, just as it's given a lot to us, and the cohabitation is complete. There is a percentage of people who see the Gypsy community as total strangers. But in order to have an opinion about a culture, you have to understand it. If you don't know it, you have no right to give an opinion only based on a headline or racist slurs." For more see: https://bit.ly/2KV0SWg.
July 3: Banská Bystrica – Slovak police concede race hate motivation after man fires weapon at Romani people and then hangs a Nazi flag from his window. A man in Banská Bystrica is being held in custody after he fired a weapon at Roma who were mowing a lawn at an apartment complex. The assailant hung a Nazi flag from this window after firing the weapon. Vladimír Janata told the Slovak daily Pravda,"I felt a stinging pain on my right arm. I thought my colleague's lawnmower had thrown up a rock, but the machines were already turned off, we were done. We looked up at the apartment building and on the eighth floor there was a woman and two men who were shooting at us. Then they pulled out that flag with the Nazi swastika”. When police officers called to the scene arrived at the building, the attackers began firing their weapons again from the balcony. For more see: https://bit.ly/2Je2sxw.